Baby bumps and Fenty Beauty: a recap of Rihanna’s Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show


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Lydia Lutchman, Staff Writer

Fans of the 34-year-old Barbadian-Guyanese singer and entrepreneur Rihanna were ecstatic when it was announced on Sept. 22 that she would be performing at the Super Bowl LVII halftime show in Arizona’s State Farm Stadium. This would be her first performance since 2018 after she performed “Wild Thoughts” at the Grammys in collaboration with DJ Khaled. She recently released the single “Lift Me Up” for the 2022 movie “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” and it was her first release of music in six years since her last studio album “ANTI” in 2016.  

The music Rihanna makes primarily consists of pop, hip hop and R&B with some reggae peppered into the mix, and though it has been quite some time since the singer graced the music industry with new music, she has not been completely out of the spotlight. In 2017, Rihanna launched Fenty Beauty, a cosmetics brand that prides itself on diversity and inclusiveness. A year later, she launched her lingerie brand, Savage x Fenty which features models of varying body types. The billionaire businesswoman welcomed her first child with boyfriend and rapper, A$AP Rocky, in May 2022. This has pushed Rihanna’s drive, and she mentioned that her son is a big reason why she took the offer to perform at one of the biggest stages in the world

The day finally came on Feb. 12, when 119 million people sat down to watch the performer on stage. University sophomore Cordie Zito shared her enthusiasm. “If I had to [choose between] being run over by a truck or missing Riri’s halftime show, I would rather be run over by a truck! She slayed and I expected nothing less from the queen herself.” 

The show opened with a black silhouette of Rihanna before moving to her classic smug face staring into the camera. The camera then panned out, revealing her in a multi-layered red outfit surrounded by a multitude of backup dancers dressed head to toe in white puffer coats and parachute pants, some staggered in a pyramid shape on floating stages while the rest were on the ground. More dancers appeared on the field throughout the performance. 

The setlist consisted of twelve songs, starting with “B*tch Better Have My Money,” “Where Have You Been?,” “Only Girl in the World,” “We Found Love,” “Rude Boy,” “Work,” “Wild Thoughts,” “Pour It Up,” “All of the Lights,” “Run This Town,” “Umbrella” and closed with “Diamonds.” Rihanna’s chosen songs are described as spanning her entire career as a musical artist and targeted towards a wide range of audience members, representing what she was most proud of as an artist. 

Rihanna commented on how difficult it was to narrow down her songs to fit into just 13 minutes. Some fans have pointed out that they missed hearing some of her favorite songs that day but were nonetheless satisfied with her spectacular performance. University sophomore Chris D’Amora commented on this and said, “She’s just perfect. She could do no wrong in my eyes, but ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’ is one of my favorite albums ever, and I wish there were more songs from that.” 

Rihanna was not the only performer there, as the ASL interpreter for her medley of songs, Justina Miles, also put on a show, providing both energy and empowerment for Black deaf people everywhere and making history by becoming the first deaf woman to perform at a halftime show. 

Speculations emerged that the Alaia sleeping bag coat she donned for “Diamonds” was a tribute to the late fashion director of Vogue André Leon Talley, who passed away in January 2022. This was confirmed by a post on Talley’s Instagram account with a side-by-side photo of the two public figures in their respective garments with a lyric from “Umbrella,” further displaying the close bond they shared. 

One of the most iconic moments to ever grace a Super Bowl Halftime show was when Fenty Beauty made a cameo when Rihanna grabbed an Invisimatte Blotting Powder compact to touch up her makeup halfway through before grabbing her microphone continuing the performance. Rihanna managed to promote Fenty Beauty as searches for the brand increased by 883 percent since then. 

Superbowl Halftime Shows typically bring out some special guests to perform alongside the headliner, and while a special guest did not explicitly show up, Rihanna brought her own version of a “surprise” guest. By wearing a skintight Loewe body suit and periodically rubbing it her stomach, she emphasized a baby bump. Soon after the show ended and rumors began to spread on the internet, a representative confirmed that she was indeed expecting a second baby. 

University sophomore George Davis shared his overall thoughts on the immaculate vibes of the show, “Rihanna’s halftime performance was an amazing comeback from a 6-year hiatus. The reveal of her upcoming pregnancy, 7 floating stages, hundreds of dancers and Rihanna herself made the performance like none other.” The pop icon admitted to being nervous upon going on stage as it would be her first time singing and dancing to such a large crowd in almost seven years, but Rihanna pulled through and gave an incredible halftime show that had more views than the actual Super Bowl.